US Senate leaders to start wrangling over fiscal deal
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The search for an elusive fiscal deal aimed at avoiding blanket tax hikes and drastic spending cuts was in the hands of US Senate leaders on Saturday after President Barack Obama brought them together in a bid to move the quest for an accord forward.
Mr Obama and congressional leaders met at the White House on Friday and agreed that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will now take the lead in trying to force an agreement before Tuesday.
The president said Senate Democrats and Republicans would work overtime this weekend to try to head off a US$500 billion (S$608 billion) time bomb of tax hikes and spending cuts called a "fiscal cliff" before a Jan 1 deadline.
"We had a constructive meeting ... I'm modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved," Mr Obama said, as the mood lifted somewhat after earlier pessimism had sparked a Wall Street selloff.